Is WU Slowing Down?

At first, it was indeed pathological. Running Windows Update (WU) on my old Lenovo T520, I couldn’t get the update process to run to completion. I just blogged about that experience, and its fix, at Win10.Guru. Afterwards, I ran WU on my various PCs to see if the T520 was an outlier. I wanted to answer this question: Is WU slowing down?

Here’s what I observed. On PCs with wired network connections, it takes 15-20 seconds from clicking the “Check for updates” button for a response from the Microsoft servers. For newer laptops with 802.11ac wireless connections, it takes more like 35-40 seconds. On my two oldest Lenovo laptops (T520 and X220 Tablet) it takes 1:25-1:30. The new PCs have 802.11ac adapters, while the oldest ones have 802.11n adapters. So, just for grins, I plugged an RJ-45 cable from my switch to one of the oldest Lenovo laptops. (It’s the X220, with the same GbE and 802.11n adapters as the T520, but it’s right next to my desk.) Sure enough, it took just over 20 seconds over wired Ethernet to get a response from the WU servers.

Is WU Slowing Down? Apparently Not, Except When Things Get Weird.

Looks like most of the delay is a function of network latency. I have a nominal 940 Gbps link to the Internet from Spectrum. Right now, SpeedTest reports it at 795 Mbps, interacting with an ISP (Suddenlink Communications) 8 miles from my present location. That drops to about 300 Mbps on my 802.11ac laptops (which are interacting with an Asus AX6000 802.11ax router in the same office) and to a about 150-160 Mbps on the 802.11n laptops.

My conclusion is that network speeds matter quite a lot — more than I expected, in fact — when it comes to handshaking with Microsoft’s WU servers and getting a response from them. So no, WU doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Looks like the relatively slow back’n’forth in using the 2.5 Ghz channel on the Asus router is responsible for most of the delay involved.

But when the T520 wouldn’t complete its “Checking for updates” activities at all (I let it run for half-an-hour), I knew my problem was of a different sort. And that’s when a Windows Update Reset (using the batch file from this great tutorial) did the trick for me, but not without overcoming the Catch-22 described in the Win10.Guru post to which I linked in the first paragraph here. And so it goes, here in Windows-World!

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